Our CEO and Co-Founder, James, gives an in-depth account of his presentation at our last members drinks event. What has Encore been doing recently, what challenges are we facing, and what new features can you expect to see soon? Read on to find out...
One of the favourite parts of my work as Encore CEO is when we invite musicians to our office in Moorgate to chat over a drink and listen to how they're using Encore. The events get better every time, and last week's Encore Drinks was undoubtedly the best yet.
We provided insight into the work we're doing at Encore, showcased some future projects, and had great conversations about how we can make Encore better for our members. Thank you to everyone who came along and contributed to such energetic dialogue!
The Encore community is so much bigger than the people who were in that room last week, so if you weren't able to make it, I want to share with you now some of those insights and discussion points.
As always, if you have any thoughts on what you've read, feel free to email me. Happy reading!
1. What have we been working on recently?
2. Current challenges
3. What's on the horizon?
1. What have we been working on recently?
Encore Pay is a product that we are all extremely proud of at Encore, and the new system has been working incredibly well for the hundreds of bookings we have processed since its launch in February 2017.
As a musician, you receive a deposit upon booking confirmation and assurance that the client has paid for their booking before the event itself.
We transfer your fee 24 hours after your performance and the money will typically hit your bank account within three working days (depending on your bank), without you having to write a single invoice or ask the client if they have paid you yet.
Revamped Enquiry Form
Our aim with every enquiry is for you, as a musician, to know exactly what the customer is looking for, and to know whether you’re suitable for the gig without having to ask further questions.
To achieve this aim, we’ve been hard at work revamping our enquiry flow to make it as easy as possible for customers to provide detailed information about their event in a simple way.
We’ve released a new enquiry form which asks customers to answer one question at a time. This new form means we can ask for more detailed info without requiring customers to fill out the kind of long and arduous forms found on more traditional music booking websites.
This new form also means we can start to ask smart, context-aware questions. If we know someone is looking for a pianist, we can ask whether there’s a piano at the venue. If a customer is looking for a band, we can ask if they want an instrumental band, or whether they want one or more singers.
As well as getting you booked for gigs, we want to help you develop your career as a musician in as many ways as we can.
We’ve begun partnering with some exciting companies to bring you exclusive Encore member deals and discounts, and the first partnership we’re announcing is with Splento, who are offering discounted promo photography packages for all Encore members. Find out more here.
We currently send Job Alerts based on your instrument and styles tags. However, we’ve had feedback from some members that the alerts they receive aren’t always relevant, and we’re working on a more fine-grained tagging system which we’ll be releasing soon.
Some of our customers who request quotes from Encore musicians don’t always reply promptly. To solve this, we’ll be adding time-limits to each enquiry so that inactive customers have their enquiries closed automatically for them. This update will be coming soon - so stay tuned for more info!
The average Encore review score is 4.9 out of 5, which is fantastic! However, a number of our customers aren’t writing reviews after their events. Reviews are a crucial part of Encore’s trust system, and musicians with reviews rank higher in search and increase their chances of being booked again. We’ve been rewriting some of the “Please leave a review” emails, and we would suggest that you ask customers to write reviews after they have booked you.
What's on the horizon?
Smart Enquiry Form
As I mentioned earlier, we’re refining the customer enquiry flow to gain more detailed information from customers, and we’ll be continuing to develop this form over the coming weeks based on customer and musician feedback.
Encore Pay for your own bookings
Encore Pay is working extremely well for bookings initiated on Encore, and we want to make it available to you when you’re dealing with your own clients. With Encore Pay, the client pays your fee before the gig, you get a deposit and then remainder is automatically transferred to your account within 3 working days of the performance - so both you and your client can relax knowing the financial side of your booking is in safe hands (read more about the benefits of Encore Pay here). Keep an eye on your inbox if you want to be involved in the beta phase of this launch.
Jobs Page Improvements
Many of you have asked for filtering, sorting, and a search function on the Encore Jobs page and in the mobile apps. We’ve listened to your ideas, and we’ll be putting them in place this summer.
We’ll be unveiling a new Encore design as well as new Encore profiles later this summer. We can’t wait to show you what we’ve been working on!
This part of the evening lasted half an hour, and created some really stimulating discussion. Below are some of the general questions asked that apply to all Encore members.
How do you plan to differentiate between professional, semi-professional and amateur musicians?
This is a really good question, and it’s one we’ve discussed several times before. We are likely to introduce a tagging system in the future so that each Encore member can self-identify as either pro, semi-pro or amateur.
We may also ask questions such as “How many gigs do you do in an average week?” or “What proportion of your income comes from music performance?” to help with this tagging, but these questions are yet to be decided.
One of the concepts that was discussed during the Q&A session was the level of “service” provided by a musician, rather than simply the “standard” of the musician being booked. If a professional musician is booked, a customer would and should expect a professional service throughout the booking process. If, however, an amateur orchestra are booking an amateur musician, then the expectations would be quite different, and some members thought that this distinction should be clearer when browsing musician profiles.
Could you please provide more feedback when we quote for a gig and don’t get booked?
One of the ideas suggested at Encore Drinks involved sending an update to the musicians who applied for a gig and weren’t booked giving stats on the person or group that was booked i.e. The band booked had 7 videos, 3 MP3 samples, 10 photos and a cover letter that was 500 words long.
This sort of insight will help you refine your profile and your quoting tactics, and it’s an idea we’re going to flesh out this summer.
Follow-up emails / nudges
“I’m really enjoying the new Call Request feature. I recently spoke to a client on the phone, then received an email from Encore suggesting that I follow up with a written summary of our call. I really appreciated this nudge and didn’t feel patronised at all. The Encore team have more insight into what customers want and how they behave than we as individual musicians do. Could you please provide more of these nudges?”
We’re really glad that these email suggestions are working well – the musician who asked this question did indeed follow up, and actually received a booking request for the gig in question the day after Encore Drinks!
This feature was actually inspired the MU Handbook, which advises musicians to always write down verbal conversations and summarise any details discussed. Customers really appreciate these written summaries, and they’re incredibly helpful for ensuring you and the person booking you are on the same page throughout the booking process.
Now that we know they are proving effective, we will certainly be adding more of these nudges highlighting other ways you can offer a professional service to clients.
I often see clients making enquiries with budgets that are fairly low. What are you doing to improve this?
We’re really glad somebody asked this question! We’re aware that some customers enter budgets that are unfeasible for the request they’re making i.e. “We’re looking for a String Quartet and we have £300”.
We know that many people booking live music are doing so for the first time, and don’t know how much it costs to hire good musicians. To help them understand the costs involved, we’re working on visualising the spread of quotes they can expect to receive when making their enquiry, and we're showing them the average price they can expect based on historical Encore quote data.
We’re now trialling this with harp enquiries, which are some of the simpler enquiries we receive. Here, the customer cannot enter a budget lower than £160 (the absolute minimum we would expect a harpist to go out for), and knows what to expect from the quotes they’ll receive.
We’ll be rolling this budget tool out across other enquiry types in the coming weeks, meaning we’ll soon be at a point where every single Encore enquiry that you receive contains a workable budget.
Next Encore Drinks
We'll be hosting the next Encore Drinks event on Tuesday 11th of July. Invitations will be sent to musicians who have been booked recently, and we'll then release any remaining tickets to the whole Encore Community. If you'd like to come along, please send an email to [email protected]
We'll also be live-streaming the event, so keep an eye on our Facebook Page for details.
Until next time!